The availability of 12 complete genomes of various species of genus Drosophila provides a unique opportunity to analyze genome-scale chromosomal rearrangements among a group of closely related species. This article reports on the comparison of gene order between these 12 species and on the fixed rearrangement events that disrupt gene order. Three major themes are addressed: the conservation of syntenic blocks across species, the disruption of syntenic blocks (via chromosomal inversion events) and its relationship to the phylogenetic distribution of these species, and the rate of rearrangement events over evolutionary time. Comparison of syntenic blocks across this large genomic data set confirms that genetic elements are largely (95%) localized to the same Muller element across genus Drosophila species and paracentric inversions serve as the dominant mechanism for shuffling the order of genes along a chromosome. Gene-order scrambling between species is in accordance with the estimated evolutionary distances between them and we find it to approximate a linear process over time (linear to exponential with alternate divergence time estimates). We find the distribution of synteny segment sizes to be biased by a large number of small segments with comparatively fewer large segments. Our results provide estimated chromosomal evolution rates across this set of species on the basis of whole-genome synteny analysis, which are found to be higher than those previously reported. Identification of conserved syntenic blocks across these genomes suggests a large number of conserved blocks with varying levels of embryonic expression correlation in Drosophila melanogaster. On the other hand, an analysis of the disruption of syntenic blocks between species allowed the identification of fixed inversion breakpoints and estimates of breakpoint reuse and lineage-specific breakpoint event segregation.
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